On Fear

I’m afraid of three things, mainly: death, needles, and failure.

Death is a big one. I don’t know how anybody gets around it. When I think of death, I think of Philip Larkin’s poem Aubade, in which he writes:

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels…
…Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

I don’t believe in Heaven. I believe that when people die, it’s over. So Larkin’s “courage is no good” resonates with me. It’s not about bravery, it’s about the extinction of a consciousness. That, as they say, is that.

Moving from the most rational fear to the most irrational: needles. This one is simpler. Somehow, some neuron or other got tangled up and saddled me with a phobia of needles. These devices of doctors, which diagnose and prevent and cure, scare me. It’s not the pain of being stuck – it’s the needle itself, somehow, absurdly.

Fortunately, this is one arena where courage can prevail. And there are other tricks as well. I prepare by looking at pictures and videos of injections, desensitizing myself. During the actual event, I hum Canon in D in my head.

I used to get so afraid that I’d become physically sick when I had to get blood drawn. Mostly, that doesn’t happen anymore. Progress.

And finally: failure.

Fear of failure is tied up with fear of death, in that I’m very aware of my limited time to succeed. I want to get stories and books published; I want to make an A.I. in some form; I want to be a good person, and a great person. I want these things because I wanted them as a child, and I refuse to give up on the childhood dreams. And so, failure haunts me.

I don’t want to die; but if I must, then I don’t want to die regretful.

Not sure why all that has been buzzing around in my head lately, but there we are.

What are you afraid of?

6 responses to “On Fear

  1. Heights.

    My glasses falling off when I look over the edge of something; which might be heights again.

  2. Failure and death. I am really haunted by any perceived failure . . . which is why I really hated Calculus this year. There was no straightforward path to success, and a lot of the problems were a lot more difficult than I was used to, as well as requiring a lot more thinking and problem solving than Algebra-2, which was just plugging things into a formula. So the entire year through I have hated the feeling of failure that comes whenever I go to Calculus . . . Blasted mathematics! I curse thee!

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